Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation notes:
In 1996, a Republican Congress drafted a welfare-reform law — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — that for the first time established meaningful work standards for welfare recipients. President Clinton reluctantly signed this legislation.Rector notes that the public overwhelmingly favors work requirements so the Left and Obama Administration has to make changes stealthily.
Ever since, Democratic leaders have attempted — unsuccessfully — to repeal welfare’s work standards, blocking reauthorization of TANF and attempting to weaken the requirements.
Unable to eliminate “workfare” legislatively, the Left now acts contrary to the law and employs a bureaucratic maneuver to gut the work requirements. The Obama administration claims authority to grant waivers that allow states to skirt these requirements.
This hostility to workfare is deeply at odds with the public’s view. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that 83 percent of adults favor work requirements. Only 7 percent oppose them.
Recognizing such strong support for work requirements, liberals historically used camouflage tactics: They publicly praised workfare while seeking to murder it behind the scenes. The Obama administration has adopted this “talk right, govern left” strategy.
Humorously, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius even asserts that the administration abolished the TANF work requirements in order to increase work.
This is false.
The Obama administration claims authority to overhaul every aspect of the TANF work provisions (section 407), including “definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures and the calculation of participation rates” — in other words, the whole work program. Sebelius’s HHS bureaucracy declared the existing TANF law a blank slate on which it can write any policy it chooses.The endgame, in effect, is expanding the welfare state and dependency on government as widely as possible.
Because HHS granted itself total authority to change any aspect of the work standards, the agency will not be bound by its state-by-state waiver approach in the future.
Moreover, HHS has made it clear that it will not accept waivers for new conservative policies. The agency’s guidance states that it will not approve policy initiatives that are “likely to reduce access to aid.” Translation: HHS will oppose any policy that reduces welfare caseloads....More government, more government dependency, and more dysfunction in society. That's the fruit of their efforts.
Obama’s goal is to “spread the wealth” by massively increasing the welfare state. The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. Roughly a third of the population receives benefits from one or more of these programs. (These figures do not include Social Security or Medicare.) Total welfare spending in 2011 came to $927 billion.
Last month, only three of these programs included any type of work requirement. Now that number is two, since Obama ended welfare reform as we know it.